Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa has charged Civil Society Organisations to strengthen collaboration with anti-graft agencies stressing that, with their closeness to the grassroots they are well positioned to assist the Commission with information that will enhance the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
He stated this on Thursday, March 30, 2023, during an engagement between the Commission and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, held at the corporate headquarters of the Commission, Abuja. He said such collaboration was imperative as the fight against corruption was not for the EFCC only.
The EFCC boss disclosed that funds recovered by the Commission are being deployed for the completion of some critical infrastructures in the country, including the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kano Expressway, as well as the construction of the second Niger Bridge.
According to him, “EFCC was the first organisation to comply with the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022 that mandates relevant agencies to open Confiscated and Forfeited Properties Account in naira, dollar, pound sterling and the euro.”
“In one swoop, we transferred N110billion, $29million, €6.6million and £1.3 million, and His Excellency, President and Commander- in Chief of the Armed Forces instructed that all the monies be transferred to the Presidential Infrastructural Development Initiative to complete the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kano Expressway, as well as the second Niger bridge. This morning, I learnt we transferred an additional N32 billion in that account which is also going to be used for that purpose.”
The anti-corruption czar says that with the Money Laundering( Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 and the placement of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, SCUML, in the EFCC, which enhances the Commission’s power to monitor, register and regulate Non-designated Financial Institutions, Businesses and Professions, DNFIBPs, stealing from public treasury will become difficult because all the avenues for leakages will be blocked.
Speaking on the EFCC’s 2022 conviction record, Bawa disclosed that the Commission secured 3,785 convictions and lost only 41 cases, stressing that the figure represents a 98.2% success rate in court.
In his own remark, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani wondered where Nigeria would have been, without the EFCC and CSOs. He commended the Commission’s involvement in the just-concluded general elections, stressing that without the EFCC’s involvement, commercialization of votes would have been too brazen and unmanageable.
Secretary to the Commission, Dr. George Ekpungu appreciated CSOs for supporting the EFCC in the fight against corruption and sued for more involvement in the crusade.
Also, in a related event in Lagos Bawa called on CSOs to be constructive in criticising the activities of anti-graft agencies in the country.
He gave the charge in a remarks during the anti-corruption stakeholders summit themed “ Assessing The Fight Against Corruption Under President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration( 2015-2023)” organised by the Human Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, Resource Centre in Ikeja, Lagos.
Bawa, who spoke through the Lagos Zonal Commander of EFCC, Tongnwan M. Wetkas, said though the Commission was not averse to criticisms, it must be constructive in nature.
He said: “We welcome constructive criticisms. When you are criticizing us constructively, you are building a society; you are telling us to do things in a better way; and in the end, you are adding value to the society.
“We appreciate what you do, but I urge you to do it constructively. Help us to analyze issues very well; always have your facts and figures; ensure you reach out to us when you need information, and we will give it to you”.
The EFCC Chair, however, expressed his satisfaction over the roles being played by the CSOs, describing them as “patriots.”
According to him, “You are people who are concerned about the progress and stability of the country. You work tirelessly on behalf of others. While those of us are paid to do what we do, you deem it fit yourselves to do what you do for the progress of the society.”
Olarenwaju Suraj, Chairman, HEDA, emphasized the need for CSOs and other stakeholders to ensure that the incoming administration prioritizes the anti-graft war.
Suraj, who spoke to the participants via Zoom, said: “ As this government is winding down, it is incumbent on us and other stakeholders to ensure that the fight against corruption is on the front burner of the incoming government.
“This is not just about policies or political statements, but also about the independence of the anti-corruption agencies.
“In this wise, a term that has been confirmed by the Senate, for whatever it is, must be allowed to run out before the removal of the head of an anti-graft agency.
“This is why I am also happy that the National Assembly is in the process of the amendment of the EFCC Act to ensure that the EFCC Chairman enjoys the same form of protection as the Chairman of either the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB or Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Fraud Related Offences Commission, ICPC.”